Flyers coach keeps pandemic inconvenience in perspective as players begin training

Ed Benkin
July 14, 2020 - 7:47 pm
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    PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  The sports world may never be the same.

    Major sports are looking to make comebacks with hub cities, bubble-type conditions and empty arenas and stadiums.

    Players and coaches are preparing to be separated from family and friends to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but there have been rumblings from some athletes about having to deal with the restrictions put in place.

    You won't hear any complaining from Flyers coach Alain Vigneault and his players Vigneault knows how fortunate he is to be in his situation during a pandemic.

    "Being away from the people that are close to you is a challenge," he said. "But that being said, for the period of time, it could be a month, it could be three months, if we make it to the end, this will be a time that people are going to remember for the rest of their lives. I don’t feel that anyone in our situation right now has any right to complain about anything, really."

    For him, the trade-off of being away from family and friends is the chance to play hockey and provide a boost to fans who are dealing with far greater challenges than putting a puck in a net.

    "We’re going to miss the people who are close to us," Vigneault said. "But we’re getting an opportunity here to compete for the Stanley Cup. We’ve got the best facilities and the best people taking care of us, and if you look at what’s going on in the world right now where people are losing their jobs, losing their businesses, going from paycheck to paycheck, we’re one of the lucky ones." 

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    Luck plays a part in sports when it comes to contending for a championship, but the Flyers and the rest of the sports world will need attention to detail off the ice. 

    There is a bigger issue than avoiding injuries and getting a fair share of lucky breaks during games. The revamped post-season will depend largely on players following the pandemic guidelines put in place, and that protection process has already begun for the Flyers. 

    "We’re playing a sport we all love," said Vigneault. “You don’t get a chance to compete for the Cup every year, and we do have that opportunity. You’ve got to stay safe during this phase here in Philly to get to the bubble. I don’t expect to hear, really, a lot of complaining."

    There are no guarantees as the NHL gets set to resume. 

    The league announced 30 more positive tests with players on Monday and may be forced to shut down again if the virus spreads to players and coaches in the two hub cities. 

    However, Vigneault isn't about to let this opportunity slip away even if it means being away from the people closest to him.

    "It’s a little bit challenging being away from the ones that we love," Vigneault said.  "But we are one of the fortunate groups in today’s society where we get to work and to do what we like."